Bike commuter helps driver in distress

The Champaign-Urbana News Gazoo in Illinois reports that University of Illinois professor Steve LaValle was Just Riding Along when he ran across a diabetic man parked on the side of the road. LaValle is currently on a leave of absence from the U of I and is working in Irvine, California, where he rides his bike to and from work.

People who ride bikes frequently tout the improved opportunities for observation while traveling at a more human pace. In this case, the slower pace of travel and exposure to the elements gave LaValle, a computer science professor in Illinois, the opportunity to help another individual.

Biking home from work on a busy, dark street, University of Illinois Professor Steve LaValle noticed something odd.

On the shoulder was a car with the driver’s door standing open, and a man standing with one leg on the pavement and one on the brake.

The incident happened about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday near the University of California-Irvine campus. That particular stretch of the road runs through a nature preserve and is “pitch black,” LaValle said. “Cars were zipping by in the dark.”

[The car was less than 200 feet from a major intersection when LaValle] noticed the car starting to roll. The driver couldn’t figure out how to stop it, so LaValle jumped behind him and put it in park.

The driver apparently had a problem with his blood sugar while driving.

Full story at the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette: Faculty member on leave from UI answers driver’s request for help. H/T to Bryn.


  • November 11, 2013 - 12:43 pm | Permalink

    In my first year of riding my commute to work in San Jose I helped two different drivers push their cars through lights after their engines died at a stop. Both times it was someone making a left from Brokaw onto Oakland road, probably just a random coincidence but interesting to note.

    I definitely like the more human pace and lack of what I call “car blinders.” We put blinders on horses which greatly limit their vision, forcing it forward. The same mentality is taken into driving, “keep your eyes on the road;” not many drivers drive like they ride a bike, like I do, with full situational awareness of all angles. When I drive I am almost constantly panning my head around to observe my surroundings, it is a habit I have in all contexts of life. Situational awareness helps keep me and everyone else safe; my practice of situational awareness is why I saw those two distressed drivers.

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  • Dan S.
    November 15, 2013 - 7:28 am | Permalink

    Something we should all have, acute awareness. But unfortunately, most don’t or do but fail to act…while working in SF years ago and having lunch in the cafeteria, a guy suddenly fell to the ground and started having a seizure…luckily, there were others around who knew how to detect it as diabetic and was able to help him recover quickly.

    After getting into cycling, I soon took a one day cycling skills class. No too long after, I decided to take a CPR class…thankfully, I’ve never had to use it…but then again, you just never know!

    Confession: this last weekend while driving along the Embarcadero, stopped at a light and looking out to the bay near the Ferry bldg. A homeless guy was laying on the sidewalk, shaking from head to toe…at first it was hard to tell, but then thought he might be having a seizure…not one person stopped to help him.

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